Image of a woman and a child sitting by a washer and a dryer

How to Clean a Dryer & Dryer Vents

Last Updated: June 21, 2022

Follow along on this Grove guide for tips on how to clean and maintain your dryer and dryer vents, with natural products. Plus, we’ve drummed up some creative, more eco-friendly uses for your lint—surprise!

We often don’t think about cleaning the machines in our lives that do the heavy lifting for us, such as our washing machines. And maybe cleaning your dryer falls into the figurative basement of your mind’s to-do list too.

But keeping your dryer residue- and lint-free created a reduced risk of home fires and more efficient drying—saving you and the planet valuable energy while offering peace of mind.

Follow along on this Grove guide for tips on how to clean and maintain your dryer and dryer vents, with natural products! Plus, we’ve drummed up some creative, more eco-friendly uses for your lint that are at least good for a tumble in your imagination if not put to practical use.

Why should you clean the inside of your dryer?

Well, fabric softeners and dryer sheets, over time, can leave a filmy residue coating the inside of your dryer as well as the drying sensor inside the drum.

This sensor, in particular, is important to keep clean as it tells your dryer when your clothes are done drying.

What do you need to clean the inside of a dryer?

Here’s a general list of efficient natural cleaners that will get the job done.

How to clean the inside of a dryer in 4 steps

1. Clean out the lint trap after every drying cycle.

This will save on both drying time and energy usage.

2. While your lint trap is pulled out, vacuum the slot using a crevice extension.

3. Make a simple disinfectant with 1 cup of white vinegar and 1 cup of water or use a pre-made cleaning vinegar spray (like this one from Aunt Fannie’s).

Using a soft-bristled toothbrush, lightly scrub your lint trap screen to rid it of any filmy residue and stubborn lint. Allow it to fully dry before reinserting your screen back into the dryer. Use a hair dryer if you'd like to speed up the process.

4, Fill a reusable spray bottle with the same 1:1 vinegar-water solution or use your cleaning vinegar spray and a microfiber cloth to wipe down the inside of your dryer drum.

Be sure to get the moisture sensor (feel free to use a cotton swab for this part)—it often looks like two thin parallel bars. Refer to your dryer’s user manual if you can’t locate it.

Grove Tip

How to clean the smell out of a dryer

If your dryer smells like dirty clothes, there’s a good chance it's the result of old, trapped lint.

Just follow the steps above for how to clean the inside of your dryer and ensure there’s proper airflow through your dryer’s ventilation system. That should vanquish the smell for good.

If you really want to keep that smell out, try using wool dryer balls with a few sprinkles of essential oil instead of dryer sheets to keep your dryer smelling fresh.

Can I clean my own dryer vent?

Absolutely. The U.S. Fire Administration recommends doing so at least once per year as a preventative measure against home fires.

How do I know when it’s time to clean my dryer vent?

If you’ve experienced any of the following, it could be an indication your dryer’s ventilation system isn’t allowing for proper airflow:

  • Your laundry room is humid and smells of detergent
  • Longer than usual drying times (and clothes are still coming out damp)
  • Your dryer is noticeably hot/is overheating as a result of heat and moisture not being released
  • Weak or no airflow coming through the ventilation termination flap (located outside your home where dryer air is funneled for release)

What do you need to clean your dryer vent?

Just a few items are needed to clean out your dryer vent:

  • Safety or cleaning gloves
  • Shop vac or vacuum cleaner with extensions
  • Optional: Dryer vent cleaning kit

How to clean your dryer vent in 8 steps

1. Unplug your dryer and switch off the supply valve if you have a gas dryer.

2. Create some space to work by pulling the dryer away from the wall, approximately 1–2 feet.

3. Disconnect the dryer duct from the back of your drying unit.

Disconnect the other end of your duct from the wall if possible.

4. Reach into the opening at the back of the dryer using gloves and remove lint by hand.

Follow up with a long-reach vacuum extension to suck up additional dust and lint.

5. Remove lint by hand from the actual duct and follow up with a vacuum extension.

Depending on the length of your duct, you may need a special cleaning kit. This will include an extendable brush to access the full interior of your duct.

6. If you were able to detach your duct from the wall, vacuum the hole leading to the exterior of your home where air and moisture from your dryer are released.

7. Lastly, from the outside of your home, remove any lint within reach, by hand and with the help of your vacuum extension.

8. If you are still experiencing problems with airflow, try a more thorough cleaning process with the help of a dryer vent cleaning kit.

So, what can you actually do with lint from the dryer?

Throwing away dryer lint isn’t helping our landfill problem. Figuring out ways to reuse dryer lint is creative, fun, and better for the planet.

Make kindling

Rather than forage for small dried twigs outside, conveniently reach for your firestarter from a lint-deposit container you can keep next to your dryer.

Stuff a saved toilet paper roll with some flammable lint and you’re all set!

Soak up chemical spills

Add lint to your list of absorbent, at-home materials in case of the rare chemical spill.

Apply generously, soak up the mess, and sweep it into the nearest garbage.

Compost it

Why not help close the loop regarding natural material fibers?

Lint from clothing made of cotton, linen, hemp, and silk can be directly added to your compost heap to be transformed into soil. Just be sure to sort your loads into biodegradable fibers and non-biodegradable fibers and find an alternative use for dryer loads containing primarily non-biodegradable synthetic fabrics.

Mrs. Meyers cleaning products and Grove Co. cleaning caddy

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